Education

Police say no sexual assault occurred at ECU fraternity

An alleged sexual assault at a fraternity house at East Carolina University last month prompted the suspension of all fraternities there, but Greenville police concluded an investigation Wednesday, saying no assault occurred.

Police had been investigating a report of a sexual assault in the early morning hours Jan. 25 at Sigma Phi Epsilon at 505 E. Fifth St. in Greenville. The university quickly sent out an emergency alert, saying the victim had been taken to the hospital and describing a brown-haired male suspect in a plaid button-down shirt.

But late Wednesday, Greenville police issued a statement, saying the case was closed and no charges would be filed. “After careful review, it has been determined that the incident in question was consensual,” said the statement by Kristen Hunter, public information officer.

The national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization, known as SigEp, had initially suspended the ECU chapter. On Wednesday, Richmond-based SigEp released a statement saying that on Jan. 25, members of the ECU fraternity “asked two uninvited guests to leave the premises of their off-campus facility after finding the couple engaged in a sexual act.”

When the fraternity brothers realized that the description of the alleged attacker matched that of the man they had escorted from their home, they called police immediately and cooperated, the statement said.

“We are happy that we were able to assist in the investigation, but we are still shaken up by the whole ordeal,” chapter President Whit Beebe said in the statement. “We want students to feel safe when they visit our house.”

Three days after the allegation was made, ECU’s Interfraternity Council Board met with university officials and announced a self-imposed moratorium on social events for all fraternities. The moratorium, a university spokeswoman said, was not directly related to the reported assault but was meant to address “overall risk management” issues.

It was unclear whether the suspensions would be lifted after the announcement by police. The Interfraternity Council was scheduled to meet Wednesday night.

The ECU incident came months after the national spotlight was focused on the University of Virginia after a Rolling Stone article chronicled an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house. The article has since been discredited, but not before it prompted the suspension of fraternities and an ongoing review of safety.

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